October 23rd, 2013

Defeat of NDP motion: Liberals and Conservatives don’t want Senate to change

Official Opposition Democratic Reform Critic Craig Scott (Toronto–Danforth) made the following statement on the defeat of his motion:

“The NDP has long called for Senate abolition. The Senate was intended to be a chamber of sober second thought. Instead, it is filled with Conservative and Liberal donors, fundraisers and other party operatives far removed from Canadian realities—who defeat or find other ways to block legislation that duly-elected Members of Parliament have studied and approved.

Canadians are frustrated by the scandals emanating from that undemocratic body. Senators’ continued abuse of Canadians’ trust places the urgency of dismantling it in stark relief.

While the Conservatives dragged their feet, the NDP developed practical steps to bring more accountability to the Senate immediately. As we move towards abolition, this NDP motion would have immediately made the Senate more answerable to Canadians.

New Democrats were optimistic that the old-line parties would re-evaluate their use of the Senate as an extension of their party organizations—and support our motion. Our practical measures sought to end senators’ partisan activities and limit taxpayer-funded travel to activities directly related to their parliamentary work.

While the Conservatives have pretended to prioritize Senate reform, this vote reveals that they were merely paying lip service to the idea of accountability. It was particularly disappointing to see the Liberals join the Conservatives in defeating this motion.

Although Conservatives and Liberals continue to claim they want to change the Senate, the old line parties keep voting to keep the status quo. Canadians know that its New Democrats who can be trusted to defend democratic values and fight to abolish the Senate.”